Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said on Tuesday, ahead of Wednesday’s meeting in Athens with his counterpart in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM), that he sees a willingness emanating from Skopje to reach a solution to the decades-old name dispute and to “finish with irredentism.”
“There wouldn’t be a happier man than me if we end this story,” Kotzias said on Tuesday after meeting with Montenegrin Foreign Minister Srdjan Darmanovic.
He also said that he didn’t expect to discuss the name dispute in depth when he meets on Wednesday with FYROM Foreign Minister Nikola Dimitrov.
Kotzias said, however, that he will exchange views with Dimitrov on relations between the two countries, and the way forward.
Greece and FYROM have been at odds since the 1990s over the latter’s insistence on calling itself “Macedonia,” which Athens believes could lead to territorial claims on its province of the same name in northern Greece.
Berlin and Washington appear intent on wanting to clear obstacles to FYROM’s course to become a NATO member.
According to diplomatic sources, Greece is ready to discuss the name dispute in a bid to find a solution, but that does not mean it will accept that Skopje will join the alliance with the provisional name of FYROM, as that, Greece believes, would remove any incentive for Balkan neighbor to resolve the name issue.
Skopje’s new government said on Monday that it will push to join NATO under its UN-recognized provisional name of FYROM, and that it hoped that Athens will drop its veto of its application to the alliance.
Greece had vetoed the use of the name by Skopje at the NATO Summit in Bucharest 2008.